The Cover - Getting It Right For Your Book

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In this section:


Your cover is vitally important

  • It’s the first point of contact that most people have with your book.
  • The image should invoke the curiosity and interest of the reader.
  • It needs to reflect readers’ expectations in both image and approach.
  • It needs to fit in on the relevant shelves in the bookshop.
  • Buyers will turn books down if the cover is not appropriate.

If you’ve written a thriller and your cover looks like an academic textbook, your target readers won’t be drawn to it. And vice versa.

For every book you write, we ask you to look on Adobe Stock and choose some images that could work well as the basis of your cover.

After that, it’s over to our Designer, who will take your images into account, and our Publicists who will offer reflection and suggestions on your image choices and the cover draft, where appropriate.

The final decision is with us, though in most in most cases the author's choice is upheld and our authors tend to be delighted with their covers.

How to choose a picture for your cover

Suggest images from Adobe Stock.

  • Think of your target audience when you choose an image
  • Research bestsellers on Amazon to see what is popular in your genre
  • Read Author Branding for more advice

To choose an image:

What if I have a cover image for the Designer that is not in Adobe Stock?

If you do want the Designer to consider another image, you can add it to the Cover Workflow section as well.

Your image needs to be:

  • Copyright-cleared by you
  • High-res (300ppi)
  • In jpeg format
  • Credited – write any credits in the Editorial Back Cover Copy Workflow section on your Production page or post them on the forum

How to upload your suggested cover images

Visit the Cover Workflow Section

  • Click on +upload a file
  • Select Other
  • Name it Cover Idea

My book is part of a series. What should I do to make sure the covers match?

If your book is part of a series, please choose an image that fits in with the other titles. Our Designer will match the font and overall look.

I want to add endorsements on the cover, and the name of the writer of the Introduction/Preface. What should I do?

As a rule, we say don’t bother to do this unless the person is well-known in their field and likely to generate extra interest.

If you believe this is the case:

  • Make a note in Notes for this workflow stage in the Cover Workflow section
  • Make sure you are clear about what you want, e.g. “Please include ‘Introduction by Bob Dylan’ on the front cover”
  • Or “please add ‘…a work of genius, my Bible', Boris Johnson, PM’ to the front cover”
  • Note – there is not enough space for both an endorsement and an Introduction/Preface acknowledgement on the front cover

Providing the name is “big” enough, the designer will include the text on the cover.

Do not ask us to add information to the cover that you do not already have

If you want a snippet from an endorsement on the cover, it must be received and added to your book’s page. Don’t ask us to add an endorsement that you are waiting for, or that might happen.

Likewise, if you are waiting for a foreword from an influential name but haven’t received it yet, don’t ask us to add it until it is actually delivered.

Cover schedule

The Designer is notified to start work on the front cover when the copyedited manuscript is approved by you and the full cover is produced when the text proofs are finished.

We leave it till then so the Designer has the spine width, and to maximize time for you to finish sourcing endorsements.

We do not get into correspondence on the cover

It is too subjective an area, and corrections/amendments can be endless.

We do not get into correspondence on the back cover copy

We produce the back cover copy. You are welcome to enter your ideas in the Back Cover Copy section of your book's Production page. Your publicist or editor will work with this, with the Description and Endorsements that are available on the Book Details page, and with your Profile for a short author biography. They will use their best judgement. Authors invariably want more copy – sales people are always asking us to have less. The purpose of the back cover copy is to catch attention and direct the reader into the book, not to explain it. 150 words is generally around the maximum, including endorsements.

Take note of the order of your endorsements on the database

We edit your endorsements to fit them into the back cover copy, and we add them in the order you have entered them on the database (i.e. from the first endorsement or the first and second if we use two), depending on the amount of copy/space/quality of endorsements etc.

  • Make sure your best endorsement is the first one on the database
  • Endorsements for the back cover need to be brief
  • Full endorsements, if there are sufficient, can be added to the front of the book, at or before the stage of second proofs
  • It does not matter if endorsements are duplicated on the back cover copy and in the prelims.

Some publishers put endorsements in capitals, some in italics with quotation marks, others in italic with no quotation marks, or they ring the changes – we mostly use straight text with quotation marks for the back cover, but this can vary depending on what looks best with the overall design.

The price on your cover

We only show your USA and UK price. The distributors do not want us to show other currencies. We cannot change the price on the cover after the publication date has been set and the information sent out to the trade. Read our chapter Price for detailed info.

Your ISBN number

The International Standard Book Number given to your book makes it available from any database anywhere in the world.

Ordering, everywhere in the world, is done by the ISBN rather than author/title.

We give your book an ISBN number when we enter it onto the website.

When ordering a book, it’s always better to quote your ISBN (you need to quote all the 13 digits) rather than the title. Distributors stock hundreds of thousands of titles, and many of them are similar.

During 2006/2007 ISBNs switched from 10 digits to 13 digits. The 10-digit numbers are still in use on older titles.

We keep a reference of your ISBN in the Metadata section of the Book Details page

This helps us keep track of sales, especially if we are publishing a new edition of your title (which happens if there are substantial changes, amounting to rewriting the book, rather than a few corrections). If that happens, we need a new ISBN for it, and we can record both ISBNs in the same place so that sales can be recorded on the same page too.

Why is my photo not on the back cover?

We do not usually have a photo on the back cover, they are mostly used for self-help and business books in North America, but if you do want it there, make a note in Notes for this workflow stage in the Cover Workflow Section.

I want to design the cover myself or use my own designer. What should I do?

We do not allow this.

In our experience, we end up with an amateurish cover more often than not, and the extra work involved isn’t worth the cost.

The cover is much more than the image. The finished file has to incorporate:

  • Book dimensions
  • Spine width
  • Coding

In addition, we need to:

  • Prepare for the printer’s schedule
  • Work with amendments
  • Adjust the spine differently for the North American and UK markets
  • Use a different paper for each market to accommodate this

Potential problems here are endless, and we cannot produce different designs for different markets. We prefer to work with the designers we know, who are familiar with our work and our systems. It is rare otherwise for it to run smoothly, and the eventual result is not normally as good.

This is why we propose our middle way. You give us images to work with and start the process and the lettering and overall design stay with us.

Can I use my cover for my own marketing?

Of course! There is no need to acknowledge copyright of Adobe Stock pictures on publicity material.

How do I download my cover?

Once your cover is finalized, you can download in the Final Files section of your book’s Production Page:

  • A low-res version of your cover (72ppi) as a JPEG
  • High-res version of your cover (300ppi) as a JPEG
  • The full front and back cover as a PDF

In addition, in the Cover Workflow Section you can find (as well as earlier cover drafts):

  • The image (usually from Adobe Stock) that the designer used to make your cover
  • Details about the typefaces and Adobe Stock image used on your cover

These materials combined should give you all you need to:

  • Promote your book on social media
  • Create your own marketing graphics, materials, trailers, etc

What is the difference between the high res and low-res cover?

The low-resolution images (72dpi) are used for advertising, website, emails, press releases etc. High-resolution images (300dpi) are used for printing the finished covers.

The typeface on your cover

The Designer will make a note of the typeface used on your cover in the notes on the Cover Workflow Section.

Typefaces we like to use:

  • Baskerville
  • Minion
  • Humanist 521
  • Humanist 777
  • Trade Gothic
  • Myriad
  • Apex New
  • Franklin Gothic
  • DIN
  • Trajan

The main cover font for the Zer0 Books brand, for instance, is Refrigerator from, and the back cover copy is in Conduit.

The finish on your cover

Our default cover finish is matt, and the majority of our books have a matt cover.

Covers with special finishes, embossing, cut-outs, etc are only practical if you are already selling in the tens/hundreds of thousands. It means much longer print runs, at different printers in North America and the UK.